Public Works Productions

Reviews of Presentations by Public Works and The Tape-beatles

Critic’s Choice: The Tape-beatles

Disk reviews

Minneapolis Summit (EP)

Numbers (EP)

Good Times (CD)

Matter (CD)

The Grand Delusion (CD)

Music with Sound (CD)

A subtle buoyancy… (CD)

Show reviews

The Chicago Reader

at the Empty Bottle

at the ATA Gallery

at Illinois State U


Artpaper (Philip Blackburn)

Icon (Todd Kimm)

Tractor (Steve Perkins)

Synergy (Steev Hise)

E-mail (Erik Benndorf)

Radio Free Berkeley

X Magazine (G. Daniels)

Vital (Anton Viergever)


Daily Iowan (1) (2) (3)

Neo (Beth Lucht)

Keyboard (Mark Dery)

Pulse (Paul Ashby)

Montreal Mirror (B. Kelly)

C.R. Gazette (D. Rexroat)

Artpaper (L. Roberts)

Black Book (Anuj Desai)

Performance at the Empty Bottle, Chicago, April 1999

john heck at the empty bottle

After a few years of operating as Public Works, these longtime collage artists have gone back to using their original, much more provocative name. Actually, calling what the Tape-beatles do ‘collage’ is putting it nicely — they build their work entirely out of pieces of other people’s music, film, and video, and their motto is ‘Plagiarism®’. But Ralph Johnson, Lloyd Dunn, and John Heck have usually employed their plundered treasure in the service of some greater sonic or visual or political point — not just as smirking commentary on the source material. Their splendid 1993 album The Grand Delusion, a bitter meditation on American culture and the gulf war, has only a few easily identifiable samples — a bit of Also Sprach Zarathustra, some Strawberry Fields Forever strings, and a handful of presidential sound bites. The rest of the mix is thrift-store-LP crescendos and pitter-patter, spiked with nuggets from instructional and homiletic records, all looped and staggered into blurry, nerve-racking waves of texture, with incompatible rhythms and tones clashing freely. The Grand Delusion and another extended piece, Matter, will both be performed here in glorious multimedia, the sound segments accompanied by a three-projector film presentation involving both synchronized archival footage and subsidiary loops. (You can preview Delusion at the Tape-beatles web site.) Live performance by the Tape-beatles tend to prominently feature dead technologies and directly involve spectators: at one show I only heard about, they literally ran a tape loop through the audience. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

from The Chicago Reader
by Douglas Wolk

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